Page images

scholastick divines in the days of monkery and of deep ignorance. But he best knew the manners of his own age, and doubtless saw these things in a graver light than they of themselves deserve, by reflecting on the bad effects which they had on the understandings and on the morals of his countrymen, who not only spent their wit and their time in playing with words, when they might have employed them in inquiring into things; but, by rendering every principle doubtful and dark alike, must necessarily induce men to leave themselves to the guidance of chance and of the passions, unassisted by reason. Whereas if, in reality, there be no certain truth attainable by human knowledge, both the means and the end of disputation are absolutely taken away, and it becomes the most absurd and the most childish of all occupations.

P. 299. Euthydemus appears to have had a colossal statue erected to him at Delphi.

P. 302. The Athenians, and their colonies, worshipped not Jupiter under the name of Iatpoos in their houses (as all other Greeks did), but Apollo. To Jupiter they gave the name of “Ερκειoς and Φρατριος, and to Minerva of patpia : and these three divinities were the household gods of every Ionian. How then could Dionysidorus, a Chian, be ignorant of this?

P. 305. Μεθορια φιλοσοφου.] This seems to be aimed at Lysias or at Antipho.


WE learn from this dialogue in how poor a condition the art of reasoning on moral and abstracted subjects was, before the time of Socrates ; for it is impossible that Plato should introduced a sophist of the first reputation for eloquence and knowledge in several kinds, talking in a manner below the absurdity and weakness of a child ; unless he had really drawn after the life. No less than twenty-four pages are here spent in vain, only to force it into the head of Hippias, that

1 He always appeared at the Olympick games, and in the temple of Jupiter discoursed on all subjects, and answered all questions proposed to him. (V. Hipp. Min. p. 363.)


Platon. Op. Edit. Serrani, Vol. 3. p. 281. Ρ. 281. Πιττακου τε και Βιαντος.] This is very extraordinary, as Pittacus was continually busied in publick affairs, and both Bias and Thales occasionally.

Ib. It was acknowledged therefore, that the sculptors, painters, and architects of latter times, had far surpassed the ancients.

P. 286. ETELÓN Ý Tpoca.] The beginning of an oration, pronounced at Sparta, by Hippias, in the character of Nestor, addressed to the young Neoptolemus. It is remarkable, what is here said of the Lacedæmonians, that the generality of them did not even know common arithmetick.

there is such a thing as a general idea; and that, before we can dispute on any subject, we should give a definition of it.

The time of the conversation seems to be after Ol. 89. 2, for the war had permitted no intercourse between Athens and Elis before that year, and we see in the Protagoras that Hippias was actually at Athens Ol. 90. 1, so that it seems to fall naturally between these two years.


P. 289. Passages of Heraclitus : IIconkwv ò kallLotos alo xpos αλλω γενει συμβαλειν.-Ανθρωπων ο σοφωτατος προς θεον πιθηκος φανειται. . This latter passage is undoubtedly the original of that famous thought in Pope's Essay on Man, B. 2 ;

And shewed a Newton, as we shew an ape," which some persons have imagined that he borrowed from one Palingenius, * an obscure author, who wrote a poem called “ Zodiacus Vitæ.” 290. Της Αθηνάς.]

. ] The colossal figure of Minerva in the Acropolis at Athens, described by Plutarch in his life of Pericles.

[* Pope, who was versed in the modern Latin poets, might have taken it from Palingenius, and Palingenius from Plato.-MATHIAS.]


Platon. Op. Serrani, Vol. 1. p. 363.

The time of this dialogue is after the Hippias Major, with which it may be ranked.

P. 363. Evelkos.] Mentioned in the Hippias Major, p. 256, as an admirer of this sophist.

P. 368. Hippias appeared at Olympia in a dress of his own weaving, buskins of his own cutting out and sewing, with a ring on his finger, and a seal engraved by himself, and a beautiful zone of his own embroidery. He brought with him epick poems, dithyrambicks, tragedies, and orations, all of his own composition.

Ib. Tyv (wvnv.] The Greeks therefore girt their under-garment (XITWVw KOS) with a cincture.





Plat. Op. Serrani, Vol. 1. p. 309.


Plato, in this dialogue, one of the noblest he ever wrote, has fallen, through negligence, into some anachronisms, as Athenæus has remarked, (L. 5. p. 218.) though some things in reality are only mistakes of his own, and others he has omitted, which are real faults. Dacier undertakes wholly to justify Plato. We shall shew that neither of them are quite in the right.

There are two marks which fix the time of this conversation, as it is generally thought, and as Athenæus has shewn. The one, that Callias is mentioned in it, as then master of himself, and in possession of his father Hipponicus's estate : 1 now Hipponicus was slain in the battle of Deli, Ol. 89. 1, so that it must be after that year.

Secondly, the Ayploi, a comedy of Pherecrates, is said to have been played the year before; but that play was brought upon the stage in the magistracy of

1 Εν οικηματι τινι, ώ προτου μεν ως ταμιειω εχρητο Ιππονικος, νυν, υπο του πληθούς των καταλυοντων, ο Καλλιας και τουτο εκκενωσας ξενους καταλυσιν πεποιηκη. Protag. p. 315.

« PreviousContinue »